Every Monday night, my husband and I gather our children together for a lesson on something important, a brief family council, and games.
In 2009, after hearing about a family journal from a dear friend, I decided to add that tradition to our Monday nights as well. The idea was to have each child share the highlight of their week and record it. Over time, I started to add a paragraph at the top telling what our lesson had been about that evening and what we had eaten for dinner. I am a foodie, so I thought this was interesting to see our ever-changing menu over time. I would end the page with my highlight of the week and thoughts as well.
The kids didn’t completely appreciate this time we took to record our history, but, Monday after Monday, I recorded our life in a short synopsis on a 5X7 page. We enjoyed reading back on it from time to time, seeing what we were doing the year before. We started to notice patterns and traditions that I hadn’t thought much about. One busy summer, we wrote infrequently, but still, at least each month, I would try to write.
In March 2010, I had a devastating miscarriage, what would have been our 6th child. I remember that it happened on a Monday. After that, and I don’t know exactly why except that my heart was hurting and I was struggling to see the highlights of my week, I stopped writing altogether. That year seemed like one of the harder ones, and I remember being happy to put it behind me.
Probably once every six months, I would record on a Monday night, but the rhythm had been broken and I would forget most times. I often would see that book and long to pick it up, but I wouldn’t. I had fallen too far behind. I couldn’t catch up. I couldn’t remember all the time lost.
Tonight I decided it is time to start again. As I read back over the last few years, the kids loved it! They kept asking me to “read another one!” They loved hearing about their little selves from the past and what they had been doing.
I began to think about how reading these memories made me feel happy. It was proof of our lives, proof that we were living a great story together, even if it was not always easy. I thought of the last few years and how I had struggled to see some of my blessings, how I had let the sadness of the miscarriage stop me from feeling gratitude deeply.
Tonight, I am committing to myself to keep the Monday Journal going. As I look through the pages, I feel some grief over the lost time and the gaps between entries, but I have to put the lost months and time behind me and be okay with starting again, right where we are at.
This is a small and simple thing I can do to record my family’s history, but I know that the big reward is for me to focus on my gratitude again and, no matter my personal hurts and trials, to see all of the joy in my life and the lives of my children…at least once a week.
QUESTION: What do you do on a regular basis to foster gratitude and awareness in your life? How do you help your children do the same?
CHALLENGE: Consider starting your own “Once-a-Week Family Journal.” You don’t need anything fancy…a journal from the dollar store or a spiral notebook will do.
Originally published November 17, 2014.
Edited by Rachel Nielson.
Image from Shutterstock/Graphics by Julie Finlayson.
Great article, Jonelle! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful idea and poignant experience.
What a fantastic idea Jonelle! Thanks for sharing it!
Katie Craig says
Sweet, great, and well-written. I loved reading about your experience with your family journal and the blessings of recording. I loved it! Thank you!